Introduction: DIY Camper Van Conversion Build (Part 1)

About: Hey! This is Molly and Dylan from the YouTube Channel Woodbrew:) We started a custom furniture business after high school and that has turned into creating DIY content online.

In Part 1 of the Woodbrew Van Build Series we built the lower cabinets which convert into a bed and have areas for pull out drawers. Next week we are collaborating with Crafted Workshop to build the slide out drawers and a modular storage / kitchen setup. Stay tuned for more #VanLife projects all about our 2013 Ford Transit Connect Camper Van! #Woodbrew

➜ Highlighted Materials & Tools We used: (affiliate links)

● Rockler Material Mate Cart:

● Rockler Connector Bolts:

● Moreland Ultralight Plywood:

● Powerhead Screws:

● Finish Head Screws:

● Automotive Carpet:

● 3/4" Aluminum Angle

● Mold Killing Primer

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➜ Plans, Project Articles, Merch, and More:

Step 1: Cut Out Plywood Parts

This project requires you to cut a lot of plywood and if your familiar with that it can be a really tricky process breaking down large sheets. Its also really confusing to remember what all to cut and how it should be arranged on the plywood. We will have full plans available once the entire van is done to make that process much easier.

We used this material mate cart from Rockler help manage those sheets of plywood and as you will see we practically built everything on top off it. After many cuts at the table saw we gave everything a good sanding as it will be difficult to do that later.

Before assembly, we used a technique of raising our table saw blade into the plywood and then stopping short of the end to create a perfect rectangular hole. This will be the opening of our side cabinet. This technique is a bit dangerous so only do it of your comfortable. A Jigsaw will work just as well for this application too.

Step 2: Assembly

First we are assembling the side cabinet that will later attach the to two larger ones. This cabinet is positioned on the passenger side right behind the front seats. For this entire project we used Moreland Ultralight 1/2” plywood for the long sides and bottoms then Ultralight 3/4” plywood for the tops and ends.

Using brad nails we tack everything together insuring that everything is square and flush as we go along. For the connections into 3/4” plywood we used these power head screws and for the 1/2” connections we used small finish head screws. Be sure to pre dill these connections to insure there is no splitting.

Next we need to assemble the back two boxes. These boxes share one large bottom piece, but first we will assemble the box sides and tops separately. These boxes will also have a have pullout drawers so one end will be left open as well. I’ll skip the assembly as it was the same steps as the prior box.

We laid the two boxes on the ground face down and set the large bottom piece on top. Carefully measuring the location of the sides we made marks for where our screws should go. Then using the powerhead screws we attached both boxes down. Make sure everything is square before attaching the boxes. We made the mistake of skipping this and our driver side box will a little off.

We flipped the box back over and slide our first assembled box into place. This box is offset to take advantage of the extra width in the van where this box sits. We used these connector bolts from Rockler to secure these boxes in place. These are great because it allows us to easily remove the box in the future and provides a solid connection. The bolt is a smaller diameter than the nut so first we used a small drill bit for the bolt and drilled through both boxes. Then using a larger drill bit sized for the nut we just drilled through the back box. After attaching these together, we flipped the box up on its end to make the next step easier. We attached a 3/4” plywood panel across the back of the two connected boxes. This will help stiffen the boxes up, give us a place to attach the table mount, and give a place for the bed panels to sit on. We used the same powerhead screws to attach this in place.

The gap between the two boxes will serve as an area for out feet to go while sitting down, but we need a way to fill it in while in sleep mode. In order for our table top to drop down and sit flush with these two boxes we added strips of plywood to the sides to support the table top. We screwed these in with the same powerhead screws. This may be a little confusing now, but it will make sense in our future bed project.

Step 3: Painting

With assembly done it was time for paint. We chose to prime everything with a mold killing primer to kill anything existing on the plywood, but more so to prevent mold from forming in the van. When you sleep in the van condensation is bound to form at some point and we wanted to insure no mold formed. After rolling on the primer we painted everything with a semi gloss gray paint.

Step 4: Carpet & Aluminum

To ensure the longevity of the boxes we went a step further and added aluminum angle iron to the edges of the boxes. For the tops we used 3/4” angle and cut a 45º notch out of one side of the angle. Cutting the notch out instead of cutting through the entire angle allows us to bend the corner and create a smooth edge. We cut one notch at a time to ensure we got the fit just right. The miter saw came in handy here and if you weren’t aware aluminum is soft enough to use wood working tools on which opens up endless possibilities for different projects. The angle iron is attached using these small pan head screws. The reason we didn’t counter sink is that the aluminum ins only 1/16” thick and the counter sink would just enlarge the hole. The rest of the aluminum pieces didn’t need to be cut on 45º angles and were much easier to install. The angle iron in the floor will add strength to the boxes side walls and keep the carpet from coming up. We also added angle iron to the tops of the support strips to keep the from being worn or chipped. Lastly the side box got 1/2” aluminum channel on the inside lip of the opening. I’m not to sure i like the way this aluminum looks, but it defiantly adds a lot of durability to the project.

Step 5: The Future

Thats where this project page is going to end, obviously we’ve done a lot more to the van but we actually had to throw everything in to get on the road. We are going on a month long road trip and collaborating with some of our favorite creators from AL all the way up to New York City and basically doing a lot more cool stuff to the van like pullout drawers, adding the table, curtains, cushions, bed, and a few other really cool things so be on the look out for those they are going to be really fun.

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